A local party cruise operator, whose business was flagged in a recent US travel advisory as one of two party cruises that Americans should not visit at night, says the warning does not reflect the nature of his business nor that of the sector for that matter.
According to Managing Director of Jolly Roger Party Cruises Jeffrey Bynoe, such an advisory is about three years too late, as a lot has gone into eradicating problems in the sector.
“In the last three years or so there have been virtually no incidents on the Jolly Roger and that is because we moved offices from Carlisle House closer to the Wharf because persons were having parties aboard the Jolly Roger and not leaving the docks, which had become a big problem with police. Since we moved, those things don’t happen anymore. In addition, the earlier incidents such as shootings would have happened on the docks and not on the boat,” he explained.
Last year the sector worked directly with law enforcement since the policy dictates that there must be police presence before departure and on return of party vessels. Bynoe contends that this move has also resulted in a significant decrease in bad behaviour.
“We have done a lot and Buccaneer has done a lot to try and clean up that whole situation… So, if this had come out two years ago it would have been much more pertinent than it is now,” he said.
Along with the Jolly Roger and the Buccaneer Cruises, the March 5, 2019 advisory issued on the US Bureau of Consular Affairs website urged its citizens not to visit Crab Hill, Ivy, Nelson Street, Wellington Street or Maxwell Coast Road. A local entertainment establishment was also listed among the areas that should be avoided. The notice went on to advise “increased caution” for the St Michael areas of Black Rock, Deacons, Carrington Village, Greenfields, New Orleans and the Pine.
Bynoe pointed out that the advisory overlooked the fact that his vessel is rented to promoters and therefore his brand should not be associated with anything happening during that period.
“I am sure that the US is just looking out for their people, but we don’t actually hold night cruises. We rent our boat out to private charters but if something happens during that private charter it is still the Jolly Roger’s name that gets called. We have our own security on board for liability purposes but the promoters are the ones responsible. This is not our core business, our core business is tourist cruises,” he explained, noting that he did not expect significant fallout as a result of the recent negative publicity.
Stalwart in the party cruise sector, John Moore, whose criticism of the advisory was much stronger, supports Bynoe’s position.
“I do think that it is unfair to pull those two vessels out, but I guess I would need to know what the criteria was for making this judgement. There are problems in the society and we have seen it recently in the shootings, but I am not sure how they went about blaming those two. From my position I would say that a lot of the problems that we have seen in the party cruise industry have decreased significantly,” he stressed.